Mary Gladdy



Place of birth: On the Holt plantation, in Muscogee

County, near Columbus, Georgia.

Date of birth: About 1853.

Present residence: In rear of 806-1/2 - 6th Avenue, Columbus,


Interviewed: July 30, 1936.

Her story: "I was a small girl when the Civil War broke out, but I

remember it distinctly. I also remember the whisperings among the

slaves--their talking of the possibility of freedom.

"My father was a very large, powerful man. During his master's absence,

in '63 or '64, a colored foreman on the Hines Holt place once undertook

to whip him; but my father wouldn't allow him to do it. This foreman

then went off and got five big buck Negroes to help him whip father, but

all six of them couldn't 'out-man' my daddy! Then this foreman shot my

daddy with a shot-gun, inflicting wounds from which he never fully


"In '65, another Negro foreman whipped one of my little brothers. This

foreman was named Warren. His whipping my brother made me mad and when,

a few days later, I saw some men on horseback whom I took to be Yankees,

I ran to them and told them about Warren--a common Negro slave--whipping

my brother. And they said, 'well, we will see Warren about that.' But

Warren heard them and took to his heels! Yes, sir, he flew from home,

and he didn't come back for a week! Yes, sir, I sholy scared that Negro

nearly to death!

"My father's father was a very black, little, full-blooded, African

Negro who could speak only broken English. He had a son named Adam, a

brother of my father, living at Lochapoka, Ala. In 1867, after freedom,

this granpa of mine, who was then living in Macon, Georgia, got mad with

his wife, picked up his feather bed and toted it all the way from Macon

to Lochapoka! Said he was done with grandma and was going to live with

Adam. A few weeks later, however, he came back through Columbus, still

toting his feather bed, returning to grandma in Macon. I reckon he

changed his mind. I don't believe he was over five feet high and we

could hardly understand his talk.

"Since freedom, I have lived in Mississippi and other places, but most

of my life has been spent right in and around Columbus. I have had one

husband and no children. I became a widow about 35 years ago, and I have

since remained one because I find that I can serve God better when I am

not bothered with a Negro man."

Mary Gladdy claims to have never attended school or been privately

taught in her life. And she can't write or even form the letters of the

alphabet, but she gave her interviewer a very convincing demonstration

of her ability to read. When asked how she mastered the art of reading,

she replied: "The Lord revealed it to me."

For more than thirty years, the Lord has been revealing his work, and

many other things, to Mary Gladdy. For more than twenty years, she has

been experiencing "visitations of the spirit". These do not occur with

any degree of regularity, but they do always occur in "the dead hours of

the night" after she has retired, and impel her to rise and write in an

unknown hand. These strange writings of her's now cover eight pages of

letter paper and bear a marked resemblance to crude shorthand notes.

Off-hand, she can "cipher" (interpret or translate) about half of these

strange writings; the other half, however, she can make neither heads

nor tails of except when the spirit is upon her. When the spirit eases

off, she again becomes totally ignorant of the significance of that

mysterious half of her spirit-directed writings.

"Aunt" Mary appears to be very well posted on a number of subjects. She

is unusually familiar with the Bible, and quotes scripture freely and

correctly. She also uses beautiful language, totally void of slang and

Negro jargon, "big" words and labored expressions.

She is a seventh Day Adventist; is not a psychic, but is a rather

mysterious personage. She lives alone, and ekes out a living by taking

in washing. She is of the opinion that "we are now living in the last

days"; that, as she interprets the "signs", the "end of time" is drawing

close. Her conversion to Christianity was the result of a hair-raising

experience with a ghost--about forty years ago, and she has never--from

that day to this--fallen from grace for as "long as a minute".

To know "Aunt" Mary is to be impressed with her utter sincerity and, to

like her. She is very proud of one of her grandmothers, Edie Dennis,

who lived to be 110 years old, and concerning whom a reprint from the

Atlanta Constitution of November 10, 1900, is appended. Her story of

Chuck, and the words of two spirituals and one slave canticle which

"Aunt" Mary sang for her interviewer, are also appended.

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